I first learned of ATDynamics’ Trailer Tail after they won the 2006 Rice Business Plan Competition (as Advanced Transit Enterprises). I had not heard or seen anything about them until this afternoon when I was driving home, and I finally spotted one of the gizmos in the wild.
The contraption is as simple as it is cool. The ‘tail’ gives the trailer a more aerodynamic teardrop shape. This cuts wind resistance and improves fuel efficiency by 6.6%. The tail is available as a factory option on new trailers or can be retrofitted to older ones in about 2 hours. Best of all, when the truck reaches its destination, the tail folds flat out of the way against the trailer’s rear doors.
I love clever little hacks like this one. It reminds me of the winglets that are becoming more and more common on commercial aircraft. Hopefully, one day we will have tails on the back of all trailers in the US.